by Pia Banasch

With the Digital Twin, digital and real worlds merge. Especially in the B-to-B environment, there are almost no limits to the possible applications.

The digital image of reality isn’t just a Hollywood dream like the film Avatar, but also a defining term in the world of Industry 4.0. According to Gartner article Prepare for the Impact of Digital Twins by Chrity Pettey, Gartner predicts that by 2021, half of large industrial companies will use digital twins, resulting in those organizations gaining a 10% improvement in effectiveness. It is therefore understandable that in the next ten years a large proportion of the producing companies will be dealing with digital twins. A good reason to take a closer look at the topic.

Increasing Complexity

This topic is not going away. Complexity has increased exponentially over the last decade as manufacturers have turned to innovation and technology for important ways to differentiate themselves from global competitors. Distinction between products can’t always be seen on the surface, and simply watching the assembly line provides no insights about the high-tech components or Engineer-to-Order design. The magic that makes manufacturing profitable today can’t be detected by color, shape, or inventory numbers. Technology is often invisible. So, how do we observe if it is working?

Opportunities of Digital Twin

The concept of the digital twin solves many of the manufacturer’s needs for observing and tracking what is happening on the shop floor at a granular, data level. Computerized systems feed data to shop-floor managers in the form of reports, analytics, and dashboards.

A digital twin provides distinct opportunities:

  1. Presents decision-makers with real time data in an exact visual replica. This includes data obtained from performance monitoring sensors which can detect, store and communicate a wide variety of conditional observations, from temperature to vibration or pressure.
  2. The digital twin can also increase efficiency of data-usage by removing non-critical information and processing basic information into a format that can be consumed by the shop floor personnel.
  3. This digital twin’s profile can be turned into a benchmark standard, the “ideal” which is used to identify future anomalies. The potential is staggering. Think of the benefits of knowing when a machine is on its way to failure—early enough in the process so intervention can happen.

Critical Data – and how it can help?

Another important aspect of the digital twin is its ability to enhance collaboration. When the data is put into a consumable format, such as a dashboard, several individuals—even in remote locations–can see, track, and benchmark operations. No more delays and no more discrepancies of data, as each siloed team acts on its own data, sometimes seriously outdated.

The digital twin gives everyone critical data. Armed with insight about the performance of the machine and integration with systems, now the key designers can go back to the drawing board with some fresh insight and ideas. Teams can design better products and more efficient processes, as well as foresee problems/issues much earlier than before. The overall result is accelerated product design, more innovation and reduced time to market.

For many companies though, the Digital Twin remains a myth today. Unsure of where to start and watching others take the plunge first to ensure this new technology avenue is sustainable.

Curious about how SAP PLM and the SAP Engineering Control Center can help you? Stay tuned on the CIDEON blog for more insights on how holistically controlling your data through the whole Product Lifecycle ultimately laying the foundation for cohesive